If you’re in the market for a new kidney or a new house, you might want to hit up any UConn friends or alumni you know really quick. Huskies fans are desperate to attend Friday night’s NCAA Regional Semifinal at Madison Square Garden against Iowa State. Tuesday morning, Forbes published an article that tickets to Friday night’s Sweet 16 game at the Garden are dwarfing the price for the Final Four games in Dallas in two weeks.
Forbes cites the close proximity from Storrs, well technically all of the Nutmeg State to MSG, as the primary reason the tickets for Friday night are averaging $1,013. The lowest, as of Tuesday morning was $447 for tickets in the old “Blue Seats” at the Garden which, on the bright side, do include nosebleeds free of charge. How crazy is the demand for tickets? Even barstool seats inside the Garden are over $450 on StubHub. (I’d feel confident writing those prices might be double had North Carolina beaten Iowa State on Sunday, given the Tar Heels status in the college landscape.)
However as a UConn alum it runs much deeper than how easy it is to hop on a Metro North Train and attend the game. The Garden is a home away from home for the Huskies. There are too many electric, special memories from the Big East Tournament — Ray Allen’s runner, Kemba Walker’s crossover, Taliek Brown’s 3-pointer from the parking lot — to mention.
Alas, the romance of the Garden has been extinguished for the Huskies, who are now caught adrift in the American Athletic Conference, which played its 2014 tournament in Memphis. Next year’s potential sites for the AAC Tournament include Memphis, Orlando, Atlantic City and Hartford — New England’s Rising Star, as the billboards on I-91 read.
It means Friday night represents the last time the Huskies will have a chance to play a relevant tournament game at MSG any time soon — this is, after all, the first NCAA tournament game at the hallowed venue in 53 years. Due to APR violations, UConn missed out on the postseason last year, including the final “real” Big East Tournament, so Huskies fans are thirsting to rock the Garden once again.
The fervor for tickets even has prominent Connecticut columnists, like the Hartford Courant‘s Jeff Jacobs wondering if it might help the Huskies appeal more to the Big Ten or ACC.
One thing is for certain, if the Big Ten was so hell bent on making an “footprint” in New York it should have selected UConn over Rutgers. Granted it’s my blue-and-white colored glasses talking here, but the Scarlet Knights aren’t moving the needle at MSG like this, of course Rutgers would have to, you know, qualify for the NCAA tournament. Regardless, driving up demand for one NCAA Tournament game at the ‘world’s most famous arena’ isn’t going to save the Huskies from conference purgatory.
If you’re curious, according to TiqIQ the average prices for the other three Regional Semifinals this week are $302 for the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; $130 for the South Regional at the FedEx Forum in Memphis and $438 for the West Regional at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Tickets in Memphis are listed as cheap as $20.